The Lion and the Lamb

Sadly, only a week after his first spring brushing, Cuzco’s hair inexplicably started coming out in clumps and now he’s almost bald, the poor fella! Given the current sad state of his usually glorious ensemble, there will be no “Glamour Shots” for a while. We don’t want Cuzco to be embarrassed by his nakedness. Hopefully a new coat will grow in quickly.

But in the meantime, we still have stories which are sometimes even better than photos. I got a new harness today and Cuzco wanted to try it on for size. It was a chill, blustery day and the patio where I normally tack up was slick with ice, so I figured I’d take Cuzco in the cozy basement and try the harness on by the wood stove. I’m used to bringing the girls in every morning to be milked. It’s usually a pretty calm affair: I open the basement door and the goat walks sedately in ahead of me and moseys over to the stanchion with maybe a pause here or there to investigate something on the way.

But Cuzco is not a sedate kinda guy. Purely out of habit, I opened the door for Cuzco like I do for the girls without first haltering him or even grabbing his collar. I might as well have opened the door for a tornado! There was half a box of popcorn left over from a movie last Wednesday that was sitting on a shelf ten feet inside the door. I’d been rationing it out to all the goats over the last couple of days, and it must have had a homing beacon on it. In the blink of an eye, Cuzco tore across the space,┬ádove his head into the popcorn, and inhaled most of it before I could reach him. I tried to pull it down from the shelf so he could at least eat it on the floor (I was envisioning mouse-attracting bits of popcorn scattered behind the shelf from Cuzco’s vicious assault on the box). But this effort turned into of a tug-of-war which resulted in Cuzco’s head getting stuck inside the popcorn box.

I pulled the now-empty box off Cuzco’s head and snatched at his collar, but he was too quick for me. He whisked away and made a lunge for the shelf where he knew he’d smelled animal crackers and peanuts. First Cuzco savaged the animal cracker box. It was plastic and the lid was screwed on. It took him less than half a second to realize he couldn’t immediately access the crackers, so he tossed it off the shelf in disdain and turned to the peanuts. They were brand new, still sealed and sitting inside a shopping bag. I reached Cuzco just as he reached the peanuts. He felt my hand close on his collar and made one more desperate lunge that swept every item off the shelf into a heap on the floor.

I had hold of the collar, but when the goat is as big and strong and determined as Cuzco, and when one is laughing so hard it’s difficult even to stand up, let alone control a raging, 200 lb. beast, keeping hold of the collar doesn’t really make a difference. I “accompanied” Cuzco to the bin of alfalfa pellets where he shoved aside the big jar of Cosequin that serves to weigh down the cheap plastic cover, knocked the alfalfa bin open with his nose, and dove his entire head into the contents. He was buried up to the eyeballs and gorging much bigger mouthfuls of the pellets than he could actually chew. I clung desperately to his collar, trying to pull him out and thinking that he must come up for air eventually, at which point I would slam the lid down and hustle him away. But Cuzco knew my scheme and refused to surface. So I pulled harder on his collar in an attempt to drag him out by main force. Well, I managed to drag him out but the bin came with him. I had just filled it that morning and I watched in horror as the contents slowly began to pour over Cuzco’s head and spread across the floor.

Just at that moment, Phil, who had been laughing at this fiasco from the other side of the room, saw the desperateness of the situation and raced over to grab the bin before it tumbled over completely. I tugged Cuzco to where his halter was hanging, but before I could reach it he shoveled the lid off the metal grain can and almost pulled that one over before I hauled him out with Phil’s help. Once haltered, Cuzco knew the rampage was over and submitted immediately. He followed me across the basement to the tie pole, gentle as a lamb, and stood perfectly during the long, tedious ordeal of adjusting a new harness. That’s Cuzco… whether he’s being good or bad, he puts his whole heart into it.

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